DJANGO UNCHAINED 1 COMIC REVIEW – Assuaging My Adaptation Fears

DjangoUnchained_TeaserPoster_Print.inddDJANGO UNCHAINED 1
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Artist: R.M Guera
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I usually shun comic adaptations of movies, TV shows, and video games.  Frankly I don’t have the level of undying fandom to ANY of those three properties that makes me want to relive them in non-moving or non-playable format. I like new, shiny and original, hence why comics have remained my favorite medium for thirty plus years. Comics have always been the most cost-effective way to unleash unbridled imagination. It’s why Comic Cons are now filled with producers and directors looking to boost material for delivery to the illiterate and spoon-fed masses. But when we regress properties back to comics, it’s usually a sad hollow version of the original source.

Of course my job as a reviewer sometimes necessitates breaking this cardinal shunning, and it usually ends as an exercise in frustration that makes me second-guess my fervor for the original property and the existence of a benevolent God.

When DJANGO UNCHAINED 1 dropped on my doorstep I was wary. One, I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I will cut the throat of any man, woman or comic company that ruins a Tarantino movie for me. Two, there was nary a creator mentioned on the cover. It certainly gave the cover a beautiful cinematic feel (since it borrowed directly from the movie poster), but I buy half my books these days based on creators versus a zealot devotion to a set of characters (except X-Men) or story. Three, could someone honestly be so arrogant to think they can capture the essence of Tarantino’s unique poetry in dialog for an adaptation? Wary…vewy vewy wary.

It was actually Mrs. Patey who after hearing my ridiculous theory said if I wasn’t going to open it, she would. Being the gentleman I am, I agreed to take the bullet for my beloved. She also whispered into my ear an epiphany I had known long ago, but since buried. “Didn’t you say when we first started dating Pulp Fiction dialog was written in comic styling and Kill Bill was comic violence come to life?”

Shit…why is she always right.

So I opened page 1 to be greeted by a message from Quentin himself. He talked on how DJANGO was inspired by his love of Western comic books as a kid. He also talked about how this comic series would deliver his complete vision for DJANGO UNCHAINED, the vision that doesn’t get watered down by Hollywood Suits, Marketing Morons and Flaccid Focus Groups.

Page 2 delivers the scene that’s burned in our brains since the first preview trailer.  The fateful meeting between DJANGO shackled in a chain gang and his savior, the Dentist turned bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. Page 2 also revealed whatwould squash my last lingering reservation about this adaptation, artist R.M. Guera. Guera is the master of bringing the dessert to life as he exhibited in Jason Aaron’s SCALPED. His use of shadows to convey scenes is bar none and I knew immediately he would rescue panels from pacing sluggishness that could easily come with Tarantino’s propensity for weighty monologues.

We’ve seen most of Issue 1 in the trailers, certainly not the deep dives of dialog, but the scenes were all certainly there – the rescue, the set-up to find DJANGO’S wife, the killing of the first men that took his wife and that beautifully blue dandy suit Django sports and why is all revealed.

High violence, characters that live 1,000 leagues beyond the page and expert pacing (I assume delivered by Guera) are what await you inside DJANGO’s meaty first 40 pages.

If you love Tarantino, and you love comics, unchain your prejudices against adaptations and grab this book.

 

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